Dr Jonathan Ashmore with Matthew Down
A VIRTUAL reality app to help children experience what a MRI scan is like before they undergo the procedure has been launched.
IPEM member Dr Jonathan Ashmore, a MRI physicist at King’s College Hospital in London, developed the My MRI at King’s application to help ease the fear of children – and their parents – who are attending for a scan.
The app uses panoramic 360 degree videos to allow children to experience what a MRI scan involves before the real thing takes place. The resource can be viewed on a virtual reality headset or explored on a phone or tablet.
Dr Ashmore worked with Jerome Di Pietro, a Learning Technologist at King’s College, to develop the app, which takes children on a journey from arriving at the hospital to entering the scanner. The technology allows children to feel as though they are inside a MRI scanner and experience what it will be like.
Dr Ashmore, who carried out all the filming for the app himself, said: ‘I was given a 360 degree camera as a present and I wanted to use it to help anxious children I see come into the hospital. As a MRI physicist, putting the camera inside the scanner seemed like the most logical place to start!’
Ten-year-old Matthew Down has to have annual MRI scans after having urgent brain surgery for triventricular hydrocephalus - a build-up of fluid on the brain - in September 2014. He was asked to trial the app and to give his feedback.
Matthew said: ‘I was really worried before my first scan because I didn’t know what to expect, even though my dad explained, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like. I think the app is really helpful as it shows you what to expect and it really feels like you are inside the machine.’
Dr Darshan Das, a consultant paediatrician in Paediatric Neurology at King’s, said: ‘So far the app has had some really positive feedback and I can see that it has the potential to significantly relieve anxiety.’
Dr Ashmore was featured on BBC Breakfast News talking about the app, as well as BBC Newsround.
The app is available for download for both Android and Apple devices here and it is also featured on YouTube™.
The app has been developed - particularly in the latter stages - collaboratively with Cormac McGrath from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast. Having played an integral part in the development the hospital now uses a version of the app internally.
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